As a Grade 5 teacher, I truly enjoy teaching the Social Studies unit on Canadian Government. The best thing about teaching this unit is that when there is an election happening, we study it in real-time!
The students are responsible for researching the candidates, their campaigns and platforms, and they participate in a student vote along with hundreds of thousands of other students across the country! Afterwards, we analyze the results and compare and contrast them to those of the actual election!
For more resources on this, definitely check out www.studentvote.ca!
As you can imagine, the students are deeply engaged in this unit because of its real world application.
The takeaway here is that no matter what the unit, the bottom line should always be to make the learning meaningful. Finding ways to apply the material to a real world setting helps students to consolidate concepts on a deeper level.
For example, if your Grade 3 child is beginning a math unit on money (financial literacy is now in our curriculum, yay!). You could make this learning more meaningful by doing several things. At the most basic level, you could purchase them a pretend currency set and have them practice counting the value of bills and coins at home. While this has them handing something tangible, it does not truly achieve the goal of making it apply to a real-world scenario. So what could you do? Here are some thoughts off the top of my head and you most certainly could get creative and go so much deeper!
- Have your child choose something they want to save up to purchase. Have them research different stores and figure out the prices. Compare and contrast the prices across the board and have them decide where they should get it from. Have a discount code or coupon? Have them determine what the cost would be after the discount and don't forget about the tax and any additional shipping fees! Come up with a plan of how to save the money needed (create a chores list with money that they can earn per chore). They can use the list to determine how long it will take them to save up the money needed in different scenarios. They can create a "bank book" and keep track of their earnings.
- Let your child come up with a business plan for a neighbourhood pop-up shop (essentially, a lemonade stand!). They can do the research for how much it would cost to purchase the necessary materials to run the stand and they can keep track of earnings and profits. Together, you can decide if the money is going to charity, a savings account or a special item they want to purchase.
- When you take your child to the store (clothing, grocery, coffee shop, etc.), have them participate in the payment process. Have them compare prices on grocery shelves, peruse flyers and estimate totals. Engage them in discussions about debit and credit cards and show them how you receive bills that require payments.
- When at a restaurant, have them estimate what the total bill might be. Discuss the notion of splitting the bill, or adding tax and tips and how to calculate that without a calculator.
There are so many ways to apply learning in a real-world setting. By doing this with and for your child, you will help them consolidate learning on a deeper level, better setting them up for success.
As always, if you want to pick my brain about ways to make your learning more meaningful, please don't hesitate to reach out!